Agents included in the database have taken the British Council’s training, agreed to an ethical code of principles and committed to periodical assessment in the future. The list is open and available for any education institution to use.
Kevin Van-Cauter, a British Council International Higher Education Advisor, said the list is beneficial to educators, students and agents alike.
“We do not accredit education agents or agencies but we hope the database will add greater assurance to institutions”
“We do not accredit education agents or agencies but we hope the global trained agents database and roll-out of the advanced training will add greater assurance to institutions that they are getting the best possible services when it comes to international student recruitment,” he said.
“For agents this is an opportunity to gain more skills and thus have a competitive advantage over competitors,” he added, underlining that he hoped students would also use the website and be assured “that they will be accessing the best possible advice”.
In a statement, the British Council said the database of 3,836 agents “aims to address the growth in popularity of agents by providing for institutions a list of agents that have adopted the practices enshrined in the 2011 ‘London Statement’ of ethical principles, and have agreed to periodical assessment by the British Council in how they respect those principals”.
An investigation by the Times Higher Education last year showed that UK institutions alone spend £60 million on agents fees to recruit more than 50,000 international students.
All agents listed in the data base have completed the British Council’s Foundation training programme for agents and will go through a new Advanced Training Programme, set to be launched in January 2014, as part of a continual professional development scheme.
The new training certificate will be open to agents who have completed the Education UK Certificate training within the last two years and have several years’ experience working in the industry.
A tool to enable students to search for agents who have passed the training programme is also set to be launched next year.
The London Statement was issued by four main study destinations– the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand– as a best practice guide the ethical recruitment by education agents.
I’m sure this is going to a very helpful addition to the array of information sources available to universities when selecting and working with agents. I remain concerned though about how universities themselves work with agents: what pressures are put on agents and our tolerance of poor behavior as long as targets are being met. Shouldn’t universities also agree to a series of standards in how they work with agents?